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IT DOES WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN
on 14 October 2003
After a 4 year wait from the distinctly patchy 'jtull.com' which was 4 years on from the exuberant and eclectic 'Roots To Branches' comes this almost turkey of a release (pun intended).
The problem with dedicating an album to the festive season is that the thematic framework is immediately restricted. Portraying images of familial gatherings, cosy firesides, roasting chestnuts and general bonhomie correlates to particular musical nuances. The implication here is that Anderson & Co. have provided 16 'little ditties', (for that best describes best the flavour of the album), that lacks dynamics, musical progression and colour that it's forebears contained in abundance.
The Jethro Tull Christmas Album includes new interpretations of traditional festive songs, re-interpretations of classic tracks from times past, and a smattering of a few new pieces. However after half -a-dozen listens on each occassion my mind meandered as each track slipped quietly and inoffensively past. Aside from opener 'A Birthday Card At Christmas' the material offers little distinction and the new versions of 'Weathercock' and 'Bouree' suffer in comparison with their illustrious original recordings. This lack of variation and creativity is the stumbling block that undermines the good intentions of these gifted musicians. Indeed the liberal use of accordion detracts from the topic of Xmas as images of sleepy Parisian cafes comes to mind which is at odds to the premise upon which this CD was formulated.
Mr. Anderson claims that those of us who hold dear 'Songs From The Wood' and 'Heavy Horses' would find an association and much joy from this album. Aside from the rustic feel to the music i cannot concur with this viewpoint that any resemblance can be determined upon the musical interplay of the aforementioned masterpieces and the banality that permeates this record.
Put bluntly this release can be played as background music during Christmas without offence or deleterious effects on aged parents or family members. I'm sorry to say but it compares to eating too much Chrstmas pudding - sickly sweet. However if one regards this on a purely novelty basis it becomes more paletable but do not file next to those classic 70s releases. I can only hope that the boys' creative juices flow once more - eight years is a long time to wait chaps.